Superintendent: E-learning will be a challenge for many Alabama school districts

Online classes impossible for some students

CHILTON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) – Nearly half of Dana Price’s students at Jemison Elementary School do not have access to the internet.

“I use the app, the Class Dojo app, but only 12 out of the 19 students that I have are connected to the internet,” said Price, who teaches third grade.

She added, “I worry about my other students who have that limited internet access.”

Thursday, Governor Kay Ivey announced students Alabama will not return to the classroom for this school year. Students will begin e-learning or distance learning from home beginning April 6. But for Price’s students and many others in the state, e-learning is not an option.

“We have a very serious challenge with internet access in our county. Our broadband access is limited,” said Superintendent Jason Griffin, Chilton County Schools.

He added, “I would say, a large majority of our students do not have access to online learning.”

Superintendent Griffin said it’s not just rural counties who will have to find an alternative to e-learning.

According to data from the US Census Bureau, about 25% of households in Alabama do not have internet access. In Birmingham, even fewer household have internet access, according to this data.

“I would say a majority of our systems really have challenges with broadband access,” said Superintendent Griffin.

He added, getting online isn’t the only obstacle.

“We are not a one-to-one district and what I mean by that is some districts provide computers - Chromebooks and those kinds of things - for every student. We do not, and I would say a majority of our systems across the state do not,” said Superintendent Griffin. “Not only is it inequitable based on internet access, but it’s also inequitable based on the fact that not all students have devices to access the internet.”

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